tv Gun Violence CSPAN March 10, 2018 2:56am-3:58am EST
good afternoon. we will jump right in. today i will give three minutes of quick context for the work we are doing and why and we will have a conversation. we are also very real and sometimes a little law and that is just why it's important we be so authentic on what is working and what's not and why. context for chicago and why i do this work when i lived chicago public schools for seven and a half years by far the hardest part of my job was done number othe number ofkids who were sho. during that time we average onee child killed every two weeks and
going to those funerals and those homes and schools with an empty chair trying to make sense of it was by far the hardest part of my job. in hindsight i thought we were at rock bottom and it could get worse. in seven years my family and i were here and things could get a lot worse. chicago public schools september through june at more than 1 degree two weeks. last year in chicago there were 660 homicides, almost 3,000 people short. something i'm obsessed with cold but clear rate. in chicago if you kill someone that has about 26% rate 74% chance that you literally get away with murder. if you just shoot someone and don't tell them it's about a three to 4% rate.
chicago has very strict gun laws but unfortunately is not an island and they would've guns poured into the communities from different places so for me, going home this was the crisis facing the city and the thing that is toughest for me is how we've evolved our kids of their childhood and the amount of fear our kids live with every day is extraordinary. they struggle to make it back and forth to school. all my life i've tried to preach and think long-term and talk about college. it just doesn't quite make sense. everywhere in th the south and t side you can't do that anymore. the parks are pretty much empty and for me this just is not fair. and every crisis, there's an opportunity. as they started to think about it there were two parts of the opportunity that attracted me.
one is that things were so violent and bad they were looking for change to get out and there is a death that they make tons of money. some do but a lot are risking their lives and getting shot at and making next to nothing so what we started as a cohort of guys on the south side and we found those most at risk of being shot and that is chicago, 75 to 80%, 17 to 24 and we hired them and worked in a cohort with them building a brotherhood and a camaraderie. some were shooting at each other prior to that and we have to work through early on. we do hard skills, soft skills, trauma care. all have got in high school diplomas, two were in college now and it goes for roughly a year to try and to provide a
pathway from the streets and that starts into the bigger economy. starting in september i started working through march of 17 so working with this group of guys with almost a yeafor almost a ys to reflect and we will stop there and just jump into the conversation. i don't say this lightly we have six cohorts now the first one we have a small team to do it ourselves and every other has been led by community partners, churches, nonprofit, the whole goal was to build capacities to take on and do this work. so i will start with mrs. jones, quick background and why you do this work. >> i am the founder and executive director of a
nonprofit organization on the south side of chicago. i've actually owned that building committee for public school teacher who wanted to do something different in my community that continues to help young people and i've been there 22 years. he has been and i worked with a number of people all the way up to about 26-years-old. we were so excited about helping them because usually the funding needed is like four months for a summer youth program, kids are then back on the street doing things they were before that drop in, so it's been amazing because now we can offer young people more wraparound services and support services of the type
of services we know they need, so it's been amazing and i'm sure thai amsure that you will e to hear more from me that we are going to move it down. >> i serve as the director of operations but i'm also the dean and so as with anything when it's due young men come into the program and want to know who are you and what you are about someonsomeof the things we gives argued here to change the direction of your life. if they say they are but they activate don't know what they want to change than the c. stick around and we will see if we can help you. we have the model yet inspired, make a change, change your attitude and your thinking and you will change your life.
this helps us quite a bit. we try not to take on the mother and child -- mother father feel that we want to hear the story, what got you into this and where do you want to go. this has helped us and we are continuing this work and we are grateful. this isn't new to us. we like all types of people. we don't discriminate against anyone. we want them to do better and want them to work hard to reach the goal. >> one thing we've tried lots of different things and there is no simple answer to what we are trying to do but i would argue one of the important pieces as we have a life coach for every one of our young men and the life coaches are an interesting background. these are the guys that all day
every day think about how he moved from point a to point b. tickets to the next step. transformation is not easy. it's not overnight or linear. before we talk about the work was talk about what you'd use to ddo and what you are doing now and should. >> i grew up in the area in the same place i am right now, went through the penal system, came up into a gang life, spent over 16 years throughout the department of corrections and made a lot of mistakes. i thought to myself when i came home this last time before i go to the grave for someone tells me i just changed on my own and started doing the right thing in the worked for a program called cease-fire that is aimed at
stopping violence and they gave me an opportunity for this life coach job which is a whole different world and i'm just here to give back so they don't go through what i went through. a lot of times you just hear it, chicago bears and chicago that it's bigger than just the words. it's almost like music to your ears every night. i'm just here to help. we struggle with them until they get to the point they can make things happen. >> you grew up around guns, using vim, loving god? talk about that. >> i will be honest it didn't
matter who you were with, you get or what you could go get there was a sense of invincibility. i came around guns at like 12 or 11-years-old. my mom didn't know what was going around a. it's an addiction. we look at drug addiction but some of these it's hard once they get enthused by shooting it's like you've got to find the right drug and assist him to get away from that and that's what we do in this program, job awareness. and i'm happy to be a part of
it. >> you got locked up a couple times. what was different the fourth time what made you decide it was time to do something different? >> i was trying. i have two class actions on my background. if i was to get into another problem i would have 25 years minimum to start with and i don't want to go that route. 85% was another thing and to break it down initially your friends are not your friends at the end of the day when you're in trouble you're going to go calling for your relatives and it's rough. cook county jail is rough. we are dealing with an actual
game the life that has no laws anymore. when i came up i'm sure you've heard this word before there were certain things i could do. i couldn't be outside on election day. i couldn't not be in school. i couldn't even sell drugs without somebody knowing so no law or structure but representing some war that was already going on before they were born. most, 23, 24-years-old battling stuff that happened 30 years ago that they carry on the legacy of their neighborhood. >> maybe talk about what you were doing before a year ago and what you are doing now.
about a year ago i was in everything. i was doing a little bit of everything like shooting, selling drugs on the police station, just stuff over nothing, a long time ago just at some point you have to realize you're getting older and it's time to grow up especially when you've got kids, i have two daughters. i've been shot at, stabbed, in jail, i just did a year and a half. you have to grow up and sure yourself. i miss mr. jones and he's like you shot somebody [inaudible]
he told me to come down the next day so i met with him and he's real cheerful, cracking jokes, somebody real comfortable i could be around. i stayed with it every meeting we had a. a. they put me in school to get a high school diploma. i didn't think i could get my high school diploma. i dropped out of school by sophomore year. school was the last thing on my mind but they helped me get my high school diploma and i was really motivated and dedicated to it. they helped me get my osha card, food sanitation license, drivers
license, i didn't think i was ever going to get that either. i just had an interview yesterday and i got the job. [applause] we didn't plan that, but it worked out great. our goal is to have them ready and working full-time. cold stone creamery came in with an offer. some it might be 15 or 16, no straight path. what were you doing before about what are you doing now, what does the program then like? pretty much what i was doing a year before the program was
basically i was out of control. in and out of jail, selling drugs. completely out of control. once i got on the program and began to start making a change, things started to come easier to me. that is my godfather and godmother. i got the shot, six times i got shot in the back of my head and three times in my back. i handled directions and now
out. selling drugs and robbing to get the things i want. my mom thought she would have to bury me because the ride i was taking, i got expelled from schools. since then to make the right moves and choices it's been a big help to keep me motivated. nothing to retaliate and that was like the hardest thing to do a few months ago. my little brother was shot and we grew up together so it was hard to not retaliate and go
back in the streets and jeopardize myself. so everybody was just in my head like stay focused and stay on the right path and everything will be okay. >> the thing that is craziest to me, the kids fighting the battles now and don't even know why those battles started. but walk through how hard it is not to retaliate and that's how you've been trained and raised all your life and why did you decide ultimately? >> the hardest part is when you sit down and think about everything going on it's hard to
stay focused. the thing that kept me calm the most. >> told the audience the hardest thing about this year. what has been the toughest thing this year? >> like i said, staying focused. i think my fellow coworkers right here helped hand us the certificates, to build our resume, though the background. the most recent certificates i'm the most proud of i just got a certificate for fastest removal deconstruction.
the certificates are like boosting my ego a little bit. [laughter] >> the hardest thing this year, the hardest part of the transformation? >> staying focused. you have 1,000,100 people that stray you from the direction you want to go. you've got to put yourself first. that is pretty much the hardest thing to stand on track and stay focused to stray me from the direction that i want to go. >> what we try to do is create a safe environment and there
hasn't been one fight all year. we have a couple of weeks ago but that wasn't one of our guys and we are not yet to the point of reducing neighborhood of violence and that is what we are trying to do right now. what is that like when you are trying to change and instill that reality. the hardest thing was retaliation. i felt i didn't know what was going on but -- [inaudible]
it was full blown. i tried to get to my grandmother, that is the only thing that was going through my head but she was like you need to go to the hospital right now. i drove myself to the hospital and they transferred me. the hardest thing is retaliation. for something to happen to me, that was kind of crazy. it was retaliation and staying focused. she called me to make sure to keep them on the right track.
i think mr. jones for everythi everything. >> two questions, what is the best thing about being a life coach and what is the hardest thing? i go back each month and we recruit dies to come back to the program to try to stop the cycle and two times ago he came back with me and we talked about what it was like to go back to a place where you'd spend too much time. >> life coaching isn't the easiest job in the world. hands down it is almost unexplainably but talking about retaliation, i talked about everything, i'm all that. old. i need to know what's going on. when we speak of retaliation, here's what you don't understa
understand. you become even more of a coward so now it makes it even harder to keep them off the streets. they make him want to do something else. that is a fight in a soft. so it is fun, but it is a struggle. i didn't have it easy. one of my worst fears is not seeing that one day waking up, not getting the phone call. we've been blessed, no fights, a few incidents here and there but for the most part a brotherhood. the county jail thing was one of the hardest experiences in the county jail with my street clothes on. on the deck with individuals --
was worth it at the same time because the stuff that i had to do with the risks and other things i have to look out for have to look for or no police or robbing me or on my career. it was the smartest thing i could have did. >> it was a pay increase for me. i have kids i have my grandma, i don't know i don't know how i was ghana get the money but it was a pay cut. now i know every two weeks is a check.
>> usually it is 5050 at it is a pay cut sometimes it is a pay increase. just depended on their motivation. so now just to step back with the bigger picture in a perfect world no homicide although that isn't realistic so we keep saying we want chicago to be more normal not just an outlier. chicago the third largest city in the country with way more homicide and shooting van new york and los angeles combine. so based upon population know we have to get down at 92 homicides so that is the kind of change that we need so now
just going down the line stepping back for chicago to get to a place that is not so crazy what do we need to do? >> first i'm thinking of my own son we are parents of four sons and the two youngest have never walked to a corner store. there are no friends on their block because it was just dangerous. community roseland is predominantly african-american community that i moved into years ago and my family was the first black family and i watched it change to high
school and college and came back but i am committed to the community it is important because it is so easy to move away but i am committed to stay there to see this turnaround. when i think of what is hard it is more than reaching the young men but we have to do a holistic gas and approach they are just waking up to say i think i want to sell drugs or shoot somebody. at the end of the day they want the same thing your sons and daughters want, a healthy life, feel safe and to be successful. and these guys are showing
that, given the opportunity they are turning their lives around a lot of african-american communities across chicago there is a deficit we try to fill that with people who care and opportunity i think it will take a lot more opportunity from chicago credit they have the resources to change more lives in touch more young men and that is the way we can have more success. >> how do we take this down at scale? >> one of the things i have tried to do not only to young people but those that are older like my son. you really have to take a look at them and start listening to
them. i preach all the time don't do this or that but listen to their stories the young men i don't know who they were when they came into the program but it is a great honor to get that high school diploma something they wanted to accomplish a lot of people in our community don't finish but that's not because of a lack of intelligence that they lack someone pushing them if we think we come from nice homes and our children did not go to jail it is up to us say let
help somebody like somebody helped me to go to school. i cannot look at these young men and turn my back on them. it's not fair. some of the circumstances are not the same but the brookings institute talking to you expressing themselves those are real life stories. but what makes me feel proud to have certificate they feel good about themselves, they have a haircut they have money in their pocket, they are hungry all of these things that i am very proud we have to look at ourselves to say more organizations like red one --dash cred.
what can we do? >> we also need to focus on these young women. everywhere you go every city and every state all these young men. people don't realize these men are at risk because they are feuding over the same women. [laughter] having babies by the same women. so i think we focus on those young men but they already have a chokehold on them so they are really scared from the police if they have a check or not sometimes they
don't care if they have a job. they could be anywhere in the world. anywhere. we came here to deliver so focus on some of these young women out there. >> so how do we take it down to scale? and we will open it up what do you want this audience to know walking out of here? >> the first question, more programs like chicago cred because the generation nowadays only join gangs for protection and a sense of belonging and protection and the sense of belonging.
and a lack of role models. when i came in i got role models from my life coach even though she is a woman she is still level model. [laughter] some more programs like chicago cred. >> more programs like chicago cred because i feel that is the only program what offered us that guarantees they will hold on to us to make sure we get jobs in high school diploma and the only program that gave us a life coach and the only program.
we need this program to keep us alive and if you ain't busy that is an idle mind then you have other things to think about how to do this you heavenly and more things to think about so chicago cred offered us so much we need to keep these programs and keep pushing we have an amazing life coach i can call this man at 1:00 o'clock or 4:00 o'clock in the morning and he is up. i can call him at any time he picks up for me and is there for me. i tell them i am in a predicament i cannot get myself out and he comes for me.
so they take this they were probably be more youth dead and in the county and in the penitentiary but this was our hope. >> like they said we definitely should have more programs and reach out to the youth before they are at risk start in the elementary schools then naturally to the chaos and out of control so i feel if we reach out to raise the kids the right way the next generation will be better than ours. >> first of all thank you for sharing your stories so you
mentioned you have been in prison several times. so what is like when you come out? how do people treat you? is there any support provided to you? is it basically impossible to get a job? how can we do a better job? >> nothing is impossible otherwise we wouldn't be here but you have to have confidence in yourself. coming home from the penitentiary or county you already missed out on something. some come home with no self-esteem no money or no family to go to the blame game is there blaming everybody else but yourself you have to be ready to let go of the street.
go from walking out of church on a sunday then go into a store come out a gang member. then you have to think when you come home for prison within a parole officer or probation officer tagging around. you have programs you guys are taking these programs because that's all they got for the most part they have been lawyers and they still struggle. offer you something you have never had. i never had a job. i had gotten i didn't need one. but when the law starts changing your mindset change that again society looks at
criminal like they are the worst in the world people in here got away with stuff be honest. some guys don't do the crime and do the time in the state doesn't even give them compensation that regardless of what that paper says you just might have to help them connect you made a poignant statement talking about the street not wanting to let go but the experiences all of you have get under the skin so my question is what are we doing not only to provide help from education and economic mobility but the healing coming with the trauma you
have experienced or been a part of? >> we are very fortunate to have an amazing psychologist on our team. they also have cognitive behavioral therapy we do a lot of circles so we do have a team of very qualified people addressing the trauma with all of the young men and that is part of the program and an important. >> we are not doing enough ptsd is current and present every single day it is deep they write autobiographies and tell their stories that is tough and powerful and healing that we do as much as we can that we are not doing as much
as we should. >> i just want to touch on that we had a wonderful program where the kid wrote memoirs they could unload their trauma and then read their stories they are so powerful. it was healing as well. i wish we brought a sample to read but definitely a good part of the program be met be nine. >> i cannot explain it. i was shot in the back of my head, my hand my back and my arm to top it off it took me a whole year to get back to what
i was so the trauma waking up in the middle of the night i still don't sleep good. i cannot really tell you how i feel you just have to be in my shoes to experience and i don't want nobody to experience the pain that i have felt but what made it so bad my son was four months and another girl six months pregnant with my daughter so my kids never would have known me. never -- nothing but a picture this is how my daddy look or nothing but stories and wondering if it is that person i cannot really explain it.
but they gave me an outlet with the therapist and the life coach people trying to help us heal but i have to heal at my own pace. >> good afternoon. i do with america's promise alliance i'm sure you all have seen the coverage around parkland and the mass shootings with the conversation around gun violence and school violence so how do we open up the conversation to talk about filing for all kids in communities? d.c. is home for me and there is a lot of kid that look like
me and you face trauma and violence daily but not part of that conversation. what helps to open their eyes that this is what all kids should have? >> i will take this quickly we sat down with the parkland kid and it was transformational on both side they will come visit us in may 1 of the high school kids will speak so we are building those bridges and the diversity of that movement is more hopeful on this issue than i have ever been with those parkland kids not just to invite them and help them to keep the movement. >> first and foremost like you said earlier it does take a lot of courage not to
retaliate and then deal with walking in your neighborhood when your peers and neighbors know you haven't retaliated knowing you have the courage to walk down the street but my question pertains are you aware if chicago cred has analysis between how much a murder cost? we look at before the investigation of a murder under half a million dollars overall per murder. have you seen any programs that have been able to measure the cost to somebody say in addition to $500,000 for the city's for we start the prosecution saving one person's life that could be put into a program like chicago cred have they made that analysis?
>> we did that before we started that every homicide cost between 1.3 and $1.460000 million a year at cook county like and make a pretty good roi case but our time is around a year the goal of retirement is the rest of their lives it isn't the ongoing investment that is a separate conversation why chicago isn't doing more publicly that that case to get the heart piece or the emotion piece that is staggering. >> thank you. i am on the list serve and
this is the first one i made sure i could come to to reach you all to let you know people are thinking about you here in d.c. we should be that city without high number. i don't know how many washingtonians are in this place but i am a washingtonians so i know about the numbers and the class numbers and all of that. anyone can answer, how do you feel when you see the outpouring of support when 50 people are killed and 600 are not spoken about in chicago? everybody changes their facebook profile with the math thing that i think what about the 550 are the 600? okay there was a mass shooting 40 white people were killed at
a concert god bless all of them but what about the 604 black people killed in chicago? year after year after year? how do you feel about that? >> being from chicago that is like the norm for us. turn the tv another shooting. at the end of the day i just believe we need to pay more attention to social media will get the mass shootings it is a possibility it could be stopped and overlooked the smallest thing and then it becomes huge of course we are sick of it i am sick of that you do not have to get out of your car if you want to see your partner then pull up and will your window down and keep
going. who is getting the money? the people selling caskets i'm sure don't have a problem with it. they are not the one school shooting or mass shooting white or black as most of them are in it if somebody ran in here right now with assault rifles what will you do? that is where the program is so good they may have come to the program but then they think i cannot do that that is what everybody has to do sometimes look in the mere and watch your face and talk to yourself. talk to yourself.
>> you mentioned working with community organization i'm curious about that capacity building. >> one of the things i realize doing this work is there are resources in our community one of the biggest challenges is connecting youth to these resources. i can remember going to my local park to participate in a number of different things through the course of my career everything that i did from volleyball and tap in modern dance all the great services as a kid carried me in life and at that time they were not calling that instructor a mentor but just a
volleyball coach. so i think it is so important we figure out better ways to connect our kids to these resources because the child connected is less likely to be involved in incidents of violen violent. my agency is a very small agency pretty much we network with larger agencies in the community to get funding but the biggest challenge has been that it was so small just the tip of the issue with a kid just to give a little money for summer but then there are still major issues that continue so we have to think of various ways to build capacity with smaller agencies because those agencies are doing big work chicago cred
has been a big part to build capacity once this is over i think we can sustain ourselves even longer and continue to help people in our community and also our agency has always partnered it doesn't matter the size of our funding we always figured out a way to share with other agencies in our community as somebody gave us something we would bring between eight or ten partners in so everybody we cannot serve all of the children but those eight communities or partners serving 100 kids one way or another know we serve 800 versus just those that our agency working together is huge and building capacity.
>> if it happens they don't give us the money but somehow we make it happen. >> or you do without the money and we have. we have to close but final thought programs don't change lives. it is relationships not just these three related to the other three but they support each other and it is remarkable another guy not here had his family massacred this summer at a family picnic it was horrific and his peers kept him from retaliating but it is relationships that change lives it is great you give them a second chance i say for them that is the first and they are making a rational choice now because they never had other better rational
choices nobody is assigned by the courts or probation officers nobody has to work with us. we have waiting list. >> right now it is 75 people so we are trying to scale fast because they are looking to get help i thank you feel this today that they are not the problem that they are the should just solution and i am wildly optimistic we will do our part to help these young guys put down their guns and talk to their friends would ultimately be the city to wildly different place we will come back in four or five years will be better because of leadership. give them a round of applause. [applause]